This week saw the demise of Maurice Sendak, one of the most prolific and talented illustrator's of children's books. Whereas his private life was not one to emulate, he captivated generations of children with his monster-like illustrations.
One of my favorite books was his 1963 offering "Where The Wild Things Are". The grotesque pictures frightened many a child (and their parents). His character Max tells his mother "I'll eat you up", somewhat out of place for a child's book of the 60's, yet the frightening creatures are lovable just the same, and it was this talent that engaged a child's imagination that made him so popular.
What is interesting, is that he was born in Brooklyn to a family of Polish Jewish refugees, and was deeply influenced by Walt Disney's "Fantasia" to make a career out of picture drawing. Also amusing, is that one of his earliest creations was doing the illustrations for a book called "Good Shabbos Everybody" (by Robert Garvey) (1951).
Children's books are a valuable resource for bonding a child with his parents. Parents who read bedtime stories to their kids reap the rewards of the child growing up wishing to emulate them and gain knowledge from books. Sadly, much of this may be lost to future generations as the electronic publishers gradually remove hard copies from the shelves.
Yet perhaps the most noble trait of an author/illustrator is to expand the imagination of the child. It is no coincidence, then, that several "Top 100 Child Book Lists" list "Where The Wild Things Are" as #1.
Perusing these lists sent me down memory lane, another of my favorite endeavors. On the way, I revisited some of my favorite story books. Among them:
The Carrot Seed
Harold and the Purple Crayon
The Lorax (and all other Dr. Seuss)
Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel
Harry, the Dirty Dog
Sheep in a Jeep
Caps for Sale
Please add your favorites in the comments.